dolevalan: (surest way to a man's heart)
[personal profile] dolevalan
Title: Hangover
Fandom/original: original/Ravenloft-verse
Rating: PG-13 for lots of death of various kinds.
A/N: For [livejournal.com profile] rougen's prompt was the title.



Something in his voice changes, but it’s hard to place. “Everything gets tied up in killing, lovey. Love n' money. Doesn't matter. Killing for love doesn't make it better than killing for money. One makes you feel more righteous, and the other richer, but both make your a murderer, and the other man no less dead.” He shrugs.

“I wouldn't know.” Quieter: “I've never killed for love.”

“Good on ya, then.” He chuckles softly. “It makes you feel like shit, later. Worst hangover you'll ever have.” He goes to sit by a tree further away. Almost too far for her to hear, “Especially when you find out it wasn't worth it.”



The first time she killed a man, she’d vomited all over the alley. She hadn’t eaten very much that day, so it didn’t take long. She’d been a lean adolescent, with muscular arms and not much of a figure, but between her youth and her dusky skin, he’d thought he could take what he wanted with no consequences. There might not have been any legal ones, if he’d succeeded.

She’d used blades all her life, but killing was different than wounding in more than just degree. She wasn’t sorry, but she ran all the same. She didn’t sleep well for three nights afterward.

The first time she’d killed someone with Ambrose present, they were out on a job. Wortle’d sent them out to investigate the death of some Lord’s daughter – Ambrose had known her, glancingly. They’d stumbled into a smuggling ring, and at one point, had to fight their way out of a warehouse full of hired muscle. There were far too many, but she’d found she fought well with her partner, and a bit of brains evened their odds.

Later, she commented that he fought well for an aristocrat. He returned that she fought well for a woman. They laughed like they were drunk, ignoring their minor wounds as they stumbled home.

The first time she killed someone to save Ambrose’s life was shortly after he’d returned to Paridon, just before they left together. There was something notably different about him, but it didn’t matter. She was different too; the important thing was that he had returned. Then she’d gotten word of a man with a grudge, a man who had waited to make a move for a long, long time. Her connections were different than Ambrose’s (or Agatha’s, for that matter) – she heard things they wouldn’t.

It was another alley. She had found, after the first time, that they were to her advantage – poorly lit, narrow, low chance of outside interference. She’d taken time to scout it; the man she was waiting for wouldn’t have the same advantage.The work was short, brutal. He got in one good slice on her arm before she gutted him. He was not the kind of man anyone missed. Except for a headache lingering through the rest of the following day, she almost forgot him.

The first time she killed a man with the knowledge she would consume him, she tried to imagine she was killing an animal. A boar, perhaps, or a stag. It wasn’t that she felt reluctance to kill as such. But she had to remember to kill cleanly. Don’t perforate the bowels. Leave the limbs intact if possible. So many new factors to keep in mind.

After, she felt lightheaded enough that she had to sink down the wall and sit. She stayed there for a long time, until she was steady again.

The first time she killed despite the fact she loved Ambrose, she hadn’t decided what she was going to do when she left. Once there was no longer any room for doubt, she’d taken a horse and set out; both of them had enough wanderlust that an unannounced disappearance of a day or two was nothing unusual.

She remembered the oddest things, from her childhood. Snatches of songs, rules of games she hadn’t played in years, little bits of folklore. She remembered her mother telling her, in anger, to eat a certain plant if she was ever stupid enough to find herself in danger of being saddled with a child.

It had been meant to hurt, and had done its job. But the hurt made it vivid, and Anya remembered.

There was a moment she thought they might both die into the bargain. The pain was intense, and she had unwelcome flashbacks of a wave of fur rolling over her arms, fangs ripping out of her mouth. But then, as now, she didn’t scream.

She didn’t cry, either, once it was all done. She ate slowly, to steady herself. She drank water from her flask, and then slowly began to clean herself up.

And eventually, she went home.

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Estelle

January 2012

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